2020: Maxine’s Annual Letter

Dear Friends,

The years seem to go faster, the older you get!  I’m not sure where time goes and what I do with it.  I have not worked much at the store this year.  I did puzzles and finished a challenging Cathedral Window puzzle, seven months after I started it.  I have another tough one still on the table, that I started in March of vintage Kellogg cereal boxes.   Lately, I have been enjoying reading books more than puzzling.

Covid put a halt to my community activities as it has for many of you.  Now the phone or computer links me to my family, doctors, church, and even bone builder exercise groups.  Covid certainly put its mark on this year. While many public events were cancelled; we created others, like graduation parades and I even had a drive-by birthday celebration.

Health-wise, it has been a tough year.  In December, I shocked my doctors by having strep throat. According to the doctors, you don’t get strep at my age.  After I recovered, I resumed physical therapy for balance and to work my new knee but Covid stopped PT.  In July, I fell and fractured my hip, thankfully the bones mended quickly without surgery. My leg still bothers me but I walk, exercise and ride my stationary bike.  In January, Brenda had eye surgery for a macular hole.  After surgery, Brenda had to spend 2 weeks flat on her stomach with only 15 minute breaks, and the next 2 weeks flat on her stomach for at least 4 hours a day and all night.  Thankfully, my niece, Wanda, came from Nebraska to live with us during Brenda’s recovery.

Family News: Sadly, this year; I lost two sisters-in-law, Irene Gray & Doris Gray.  My oldes t brother, Bob Gray, and his wife, Hilda, are doing well; still living on their own at age 93 and married for 73 years. My grandsons, Tommy and Will, experienced remote learning as Covid closed Oyster River School & West Virginia University. Their sister, Victoria, was working in the UK during England’s Covid lock-down.  My son, Cliff, retired this year after 35 years with UPS.  In his first week of retirement, he was running errands for Harman’s and for me as well as organizing our 7-ton Cheddar delivery!

Wildlife: The wildlife actually liked this crazy, covid year, with less traffic you saw more wildlife all day long.  We had various birds, turkeys, hummingbirds, a hawk, porcupines, coydogs (coyotes), deer and bear.  A bit too much wildlife for Brenda.   Our local bear raided the bird feeders and hummingbird feeders during the day, so I had to stop feeding the birds.  With no bird feeders to raid, he discovered ice cream.  He destroyed the locked ice cream freezer on Harman’s front porch.  The next night, he returned and broke a 2nd story window to enter the store.  He tried a few things but discarded them until he found the ice cream; he licked the wrappers so clean you would of thought they hadn’t been used.  After ice cream, he poked a claw in a maple syrup jug, making a sticky mess all over the store before he left.  On the 3rd day, he watched as Fish & Game set up a trap which Brenda made sure had ice cream in it.  Later that evening while Brenda was still at the store, he walked right into the trap for his ice cream fix.

Our Garden:  Weather and wildlife took a toll on Brenda’s garden.  Our last big snow (over 6 inches) was on May 9th and our first big snow (over 6 inches) was October 17th. It’s a short growing season and this year it was also dry.  The peas, carrots, lettuce, and onions didn’t grow.  The wildlife got all the corn except for 4 ears.  The new local bear checked the garden often, although I think the porcupine ate most of the corn.  We had plenty of cucumbers, cabbage, beans, tomatoes and way too many yellow summer squash.  Brenda made pickles & relish, canned beans, and put up plenty of tomato sauce.

Harman’s News:  This was our 65th year and we redefined ourselves.  In March, we teamed with local businesses to provide grocery services to local customers. Polly’s Pancake Parlor made bread & baked goods, Apple Hill provided farm fresh vegetables & fruits, local meat producers, dairy distributors, and a small grocery store joined in.  It kept small businesses going and helped customers that were quarantining.  It didn’t stop there, customers rounded up their payments.  We used those extra funds to help food pantries, pre-schools, other small businesses, Iowa farmers after the devastating storms and to feed Afghan families when there was no work due to Covid.  In August, the Executive Council of NH recognized the Grocery Box Project with a letter of thanks.

During this year, we had to balance our obligations to mail-order and in-house customers so we reduced store hours so that we had dedicated days for shipping and dedicated days to having the store open for customers.   It’s been a learning curve and we are still developing it. We also built a curbside webstore so when you order by mail-order, please make sure you are in the correct webstore.  You’ll find a few missing products this year due to Covid but we have also added a few new products.

Jane and Shawna

Employee News:  It’s been a tough year. The holiday crew last year included Allie, Bev, Carl, Carol, Chelsea, Colleen, Dawn, Jane, Kathy, Kelly, Shawna with Brenda & Valerie in the office. Chelsea was here for just for a few weeks as she was preparing to take her PT exam (which she passed).  Early in 2020, Jane was diagnosed with a brain tumor and her daughter, Shawna, left Harman’s to be with her mom. Sadly Jane passed in June.  Shawna decided to pursue nursing and will earn her LNA this month.  In March, Valerie left to be with her Mom full-time.   Covid has impacted our team as many of us are high risk or live with high risk family.  Kelly, Kathy and Allie kept us going through tough times.  Carl & Colleen stepped in when those 3 needed to step away or reduce hours.  We are building a new team for this holiday season.  Carl is thrilled that he isn’t the only male in the building as Brendan is here now and Cliff is around occasionally.

We want to thank so many of you that have supported Harman’s and our team through this year with your business, kind words, and general encouragement. You have made the days much easier for all of us.

During this holiday season, we will do our best to give you the best customer service that we are able to.  We will gift wrap our items and include gift cards. If you ordered last year, we have a record of your order with all the addresses. We will have a smaller team this season as we want to keep everyone safe, so it may take us longer to fill your orders. Please order by December 6 for Christmas delivery.  Order by Nov. 24 (Tuesday), for a free gift.

Maxine Aldrich (and Brenda, too) 

All of us at Harman’s do wish you a Safe, Healthy & Joyful Holiday Season
with wishes for a Better Year in 2021

Order by November 24nd to receive a Free Pound of Harman’s Cheddar*
*Limit One per Customer, must be included in existing order, not shipped separately.